Where to begin…. I went on my first trip on the boat and loved it! It was so nice to be out of town and moving up the river. Much cooler and of course when the boat is moving you get the breeze which is very nice when it is so Hot! So many new experiences and things to see! There will be quite a few posts coming in the next few days :)
The boat was built to travel the Mamore, Isiboro, and nearby rivers. All of these rivers flow into the Amazon. There are many communities that live along these rivers that have no access to the outside world except going down the river in their dug out canoes to the nearest town which is Trinidad. Needless to say these trips are long and can be a bit dangerous. They are also expensive for these humble people as it means buying lots of gasoline which they can’t buy in their villages. I guess all of that is to say that they are pretty isolated! These are some of the modes of river travel.
Our mission is to go to these villages on our boat, the Ruth Bell, and bring medical and dental care. We are also free to share our faith with them as we take care of their physical needs. The boat is fully equipped to provide basic care to these people.
Here is the boat and the two consultation/treatment rooms
Tom takes care of getting the boat loaded with all the food, fuel, water and whatever we need to make these trips and then when we are on the boat and in the villages he is the Pastor. He visits house to house talking to people and at night he goes back into the village and shows a movie with a biblical theme and is available to talk with the people. He also jumps in and does whatever needs to be done at the moment!
Sometimes the boat takes along a team of American or Canadian Doctors. However, on this last trip we brought along a Bolivian team which consisted of another doctor, nurse, and dentist. We start each day with devotions and then the people start coming to the boat for care.
This last trip we were unable to get up to all the villages because the water in the river was too low and there were lots of submerged trees blocking the way. We went as far as we could and then parked along side the bank of the river. The first day the two closest villages came to the boat. The next two days we spent in another village farther up which we accessed with our skiff. One of those days Tom, the captain, and I went up river in the skiff (8 hours in the skiff!) and invited the farthest villages to come down to a place mid-way and we would treat them there. We had six villages show up to be seen by the doctors!